Environmental management systems
An environmental management system allows you to plan, steer and monitor your company’s environmental matters in a comprehensive manner. Depending on the size of your company, you can use an extensive or a streamlined system. EMAS is an example of an extensive system and EcoCompass an example of a streamlined system. You can also build your own system in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard.
An environmental management system provides you with a tool for managing the planning, steering and monitoring of environmental matters in your company. An environmental management system is part of a high-quality approach to environmental management. This means that it also supports you in the comprehensive management of your company.
In principle, an environmental management system works in the same manner as other quality systems. You can build for your company a system aimed at achieving improvements in specific environmental matters. If your environmental management system is in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard, you can apply for a certificate for the system. You can also use a ready-made environmental management system such as EMAS.
If your company is a small one, you can use a streamlined environmental management system, such as EcoCompass. It suits all sectors and is tailored to the needs of your company. EcoCompass contains ten criteria that your company pledges to observe. The criteria concern such matters as waste management, chemicals management and systematic improvements in environmental matters.
An environmental management system makes environmental matters part of your company’s management, strategy and operational planning. With an environmental management system, your company can become more competitive and stand out from other firms.
It also helps you to save costs. You can use raw materials and energy more efficiently and reduce the amount of waste. It also allows you to give more consideration to environmental impacts in different areas of your company’s operations.
By adopting an environmental management system, you can ensure that your company can keep up to date with the requirements of environmental legislation. It also helps you in change situations and in anticipating them, and makes it easier to manage environmental risks. In the optimum situation, it can secure the continuity of your business operations.
An environmental management system supports your company’s environmental communications, brand and marketing. It demonstrates to your customers, partners, providers of funding and the authorities that your company is environmentally responsible. It also strengthens the environmental awareness of your employees.
Before your company decides to adopt an environmental management system, you should outline your environmental objectives. Determine the concrete measures that help your company to minimise its environmental impacts. Study closely the environmental legislation and other obligations and guidelines. This helps you to find out what laws and other regulations say about the environmental matters in your sector and the operations of your company.
Make the management of environmental matters in different company functions the responsibility of specific employees. Provide your personnel with training in environmental matters relevant to all employees. Prepare clear instructions for different functions (including emergencies). Monitor and document environmental matters in your company on a regular basis and take immediate action if you identify shortcomings.
When your company uses an extensive or a streamlined environmental management system, it also undertakes to continuously improve its operations and to make them more environmentally friendly.
The ISO 14001 standard sets out the requirements for an environmental management system in a comprehensive and target-oriented manner. It helps your company to improve the level of its environmental protection and demonstrate that its environmental matters are properly managed.
Your company can build its own environmental management system by using a model based on the ISO 14001 standard. If your environmental management system meets the requirements laid out in the standard, you can apply for an environmental certificate.
ISO 14001 is the best-known model for environmental management systems in the world. All companies in the world observing the model have an identical approach to environmental matters irrespective of their location.
The standard also makes it easier to make comparisons between companies and it means that they can be treated on an equal basis. Using the model also immediately shows your foreign partners that your company takes environmental matters seriously and acts in accordance with specific international regulations.
Note that observing the ISO 14001 standard is a requirement for using the EMAS scheme.
EMAS is a voluntary environmental management scheme intended for all types of companies. It is based on an EU regulation and is mainly used in the European Economic Area. By using EMAS, your company undertakes to observe environmental legislation, continuously improve the level of its environmental protection and publicly report on its environmental matters.
In EMAS, your company implements an environmental management system incorporating the ISO 14001 standard and prepares an environmental report (EMAS statement) based on it at least every three years. The statement provides your stakeholders with a reliable and comprehensive source of information on how your company manages its environmental matters.
After your company has prepared the statement on the basis of its environmental management system, an external verifier determines that the system functions properly and validates the statement. Submit the application for registration in the EMAS scheme from the Finnish Environment Institute.
If your company uses the EMAS scheme, it can also use the EMAS certificate and logo in its marketing. They make your company’s environmental management practices more credible and demonstrate that your company has a responsible approach to environmental matters.